Hooded eyes and dark circles? SIX steps to bringing back bigger, brighter peepers
Updated: Jun 4
Have you noticed that as we get older it can appear that our eyes get smaller as our face seems to get bigger? Well, you aren’t just seeing things (no pun intended LOL)!
It's a sad fact: as we age, our brow starts to drop, eyelids sag, and many of us develop dark circles and puffiness. Combine all that with less eyebrow hair and shorter, lighter eyelashes, and our eyes do indeed appear to be shrinking!! I've seen first-hand that when we address these key elements we can have much more youthful-looking eyes - eyes that convey how young we actually FEEL!
Due to the combination of thinner skin, fewer oil glands, and high usage (think blinking, squinting, smiling, frowning, just to name a few), our eyes are the first place to show signs of age. Depending on our epigenetic makeups (a combination of our genes and lifestyle choices), we may exhibit different types of 'wear and tear' in our eye area. I have a friend who has no undereye discoloration nor does she have sagging or crepiness under her eyes. However, due to years of botox in her brows and lots of smiling, she has some hooding and crow's feet. I, on the other hand, suffer from under eye circles and pigmentation. So, while most of us who are over forty share a desire for younger, bigger eyes, we need to consider the specific obstacles in our way!
THE CONCERNS - SHRINKING EYES
Hooded, saggy lids
Loss of eyebrows
Loss of lashes/shorter lashes
Red, cloudy eyes and waterline
THE FIXES - BIGGER, BRIGHTER EYES!
1. Hooded, saggy lids
This is a concern that almost everyone over 40 will begin to have. Assuming the hooded lids aren’t hindering your eyesight (which is a conversation with your doctor and ophthalmologist), there are some things that can be done to give some lift to the lid. Firstly, if you haven't already, consider introducing retinoids into your skincare routine. Consistent use of retinoids can help to strengthen the skin and induce collagen. While retinoids will not “lift” the skin per se, they can help to reinforce the skin’s resilience thereby holding it up and making for a better 'scaffolding'. Next is to use microcurrent to lift the browbone area, which eases the strain on the upper eye. Microcurrent re-educates muscles and can help the brow muscles “lift”.
Microcurrent is the fastest way to see an immediate difference in sagging lids (try doing just one side of the face to see for yourself!!) The cool thing about microcurrent is that you can hone in on specific areas if you don't have the time/interest in treating your entire face. In fact, I have a protocol specifically for my jawline and another targetted at my eye area. My eye area takes less than ten minutes to treat, so easy to set time aside to get impressive results in the areas that bother me the most. The final tactic is to study up on the strategic placement of makeup. This can make an absolutely stunning difference, so do play around with and learn how applying a well-chosen matte shadow just above your natural crease can create an illusion of more lid and less sag.
2. Dark Circles
This is a subject near and dear to my heart as I have some serious dark circles! My under-eye shadows are due to both the presence of hyperpigmentation (years of sun exposure when I was young) as well as the typical blue/green vascularity showing through my thinning skin as I age. Here is my new plan of attack: first I'm drinking more water (see my hydration video), and less coffee 😬. Dehydration can certainly have an effect on the sunken look under the eyes. Oftentimes lack of water consumption, combined with too many diuretics, can be the root cause.
Next, adequate vitamin and mineral intake are a MUST. In my plan: vitamin C, vitamin K (which requires a conversation with your doctor first - do not start taking vitamin K without a quick convo with your DR), and iron. Vitamin C does so many things - it's an antioxidant (fantastic this time of year) but it also helps with the absorption of iron. Adequate iron helps support our blood vessels, and healthy vessels are less likely to show through thin skin. And remember that vitamin C also helps with collagen production (which helps thicken the skin), and hydration (see above!). Vitamin K can help alleviate bruising (as does iron) and help strengthen blood vessels (keeping them from getting damaged). An internal vitamin K deficiency can result in broken capillaries, which can worsen the appearance of dark circles. One of the few eye creams I've used and loved over the years is the Sanitas Vita-K eye cream. Topical vitamin K can slightly help with the “bruised look” under eyes. Remember, it isn't a miracle, but topical vitamin K may help a little.
Sanitas Vita-K topical K on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3dUyGyJ
Of course, the fastest way to diminish dark circles is to correct and conceal them. My all-time favorite corrector is the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye corrector (I use the shade medium). My favorite concealer for a very long time has been the Giorgio Armani Power fabric concealer (I use the color 5.25) - skin-like finish that covers well and resists creasing!
Whether or not we can treat the puffiness at home depends on the source of the puff. If it is due to a fat pad under the eye it isn't something that we can correct at home other than with makeup to hide the issue. This kind of puffiness warrants a discussion with your doctor, as lower blepharoplasty, or dermal fillers can help to correct the look of this type of puffiness.
If, however, your puffiness is due to edema (fluid) then there are things you can do at home! First, drink more water (I know, I know). This can help to flush toxins and sodium resulting in healthier tissue. Next, consume less salt and alcohol. This is especially important when you have a special occasion (pictures or a party, for example) as salty foods and alcohol can literally swell the face. I sometimes joke that I just look at salt at I gain 5 pounds 🙄.
Once you've done these things, consider lymphatic drainage to move fluid out of the area. I love using microcurrent gloves to very gently coax fluid away from my under eyes. Using cool tools (think spoons from the freezer, cucumber slices) to move lymph away from the under eyes can help immensely as well. Lastly, I love a great under eye patch. Often they contain caffeine which helps to move fluid and also can help with dark circles. My favorite under-eye patch for puffiness is the Skyn Iceland patches: https://shop-links.co/cgkAdJb843o
An ice roller I have loved for years (larger, so great for the face and neck) is this one on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3jrrfjM
4. Loss of eyebrows
As we age our brow hair seems to get more and more sparse (yet somehow can grow longer than before…I mean, really?!). There are things that we can do to correct this. Firstly, we can use eyebrow growth serums. These serums are often a cocktail of peptides that will help the follicle stay healthy and produce thicker, more youthful eyebrow hairs. Microneedling the brows, alongside using these serums can amplify the results. Of course, there are cosmetic approaches that can “fix” sparse brows. Microshading, tinting, waxing, and highlighting the brow bone can give the illusion of a fuller, more defined brow while helping the eye area appear lifted and more youthful.
5. Loss of Lashes
Just like with our brows, we lose our lashes as we age. Employing a lash serum can not only result in longer but also fuller, darker lashes. Some lash serums act as conditioners while others contain something called a prostaglandin that actually keeps the lashes in the growth phase longer. These are products that you may want to investigate as they do carry some risk. I find the benefits to far outweigh the risks, but that's a personal choice - please do your own research. Next, the use of great mascara cannot be underestimated! I love 'tubing' mascara as it is excellent at resisting smudging (which can cause irritation and redness - just the things we're hoping to avoid!) and can lengthen the look of our lashes, instantly opening up the eyes. I prefer brown mascara as I have gotten older as I find it to be softer.
Thrive Causemetics makes a great brown tubing mascara: https://thrivecausemetics.com/products/liquid-lash-extensions-mascara
Revitalash Lash Serum is a great choice for longer lashes.
6. Whitening our eyes
As we age the white of our eyes, or sclera, can become less brilliantly white. Studies show that we subconsciously judge the whiteness of people's eyes as a measure of their age (among other things, of course). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25244481/ . While yellowing or spotting of the sclera is something that should be checked by a doctor, the typical and gradual dullness of the white that we experience as a natural part of aging can be addressed, if only cosmetically. You may have seen me recommend eye drops as a way to give a temporary but very significant whitening effect to the eyes. I've tried what seems like scores of different eye drop brands. Many of them have helped somewhat but none have come close to my favorite Lumify Eye Drops. Not only do Lumify Drops whiten the whites of my eyes, but they also whiten the waterline. And a lighter waterline contributes a widening effect as it extends the white of your eye slightly downward, making the eye appear larger.
Lumify Eye Drops on Amazon:
Whatever you do, remember this: you are not alone in the fight against hooded eyes, dark circles, and puffiness. I am here with you constantly searching for a remedy for us all!
*Penn Smith Skincare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program. Many links are affiliate links, meaning I am compensated when you shop through these at no extra fee to you.
Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Content provided on this website is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or skin-related diagnosis or treatment options. Information on this blog should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare/skin professional. The statements made about specific products throughout this blog are not to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. It is important that you check labels to determine if a product is right for you. Before starting any treatment at home consult a health care or skincare professional to determine if it’s right for you.